Friday, January 28, 2011


This past week has seen a great deal of progress with the cauldron. It's amazing how much easier it is to work when everything isn't covered with ice and bone cold! LOL With the help of Brandie and Tom's sister Julie we got the upstairs apartments broom swept and much of the water leak damage cleaned up and Brandie and I braved years of dust to clean the ceiling fans and lights in the shop area. I ended up replacing 20 light bulbs and only one of the fan lights works completely but it's a huge improvement over the single 100 watt bulb. Tom moved one of the refrigerators into our break area and after vacuuming and a few hours of scrubbing it's clean, running well and stocked with beer, water and soda. Life's necessities LOL I've also been treated to almost nightly updates from Tom as he continues to put in long hours getting the mechanics running and that's the topic for this week's entry.

We've all heard plenty about how men and women communicate differently; men being generally of few words while women prefer to chew a subject to death. One of the things I considered in starting this adventure was how we'd manage to not drive each other crazy and still be 'equal' partners in the decisions and stay informed. Email. And lots of notes LOL Take note here ladies, a short and to the point note works far better than all the nagging in the world! Besides, you always have proof against the ever present complaint of 'You never told me that!" But seriously, notes and email have done wonders for keeping the communication end relaxed. I can send Tom a few words such as "this is the tile I'd like for the entry" with a link to the site and he can read it when he pleases. If he's had a rough day and my chatter is the last thing he wants to hear it an email makes no noise and is easily ignored. His updates in return save me from asking an endless stream of questions trying to pry out answers while following him around the building like a lost puppy LOL And truthfully, the emails are hysterical and tell me everything I need to know about the progress and also Tom's mood. The latest, received tonight, is a good example and will update you on our current state of affairs.

welll more good news/bad news lol...good news....we have running water in the back room....bad news the drains don't drain so well....good news... we have hot running water in the back room..... bad news....the roof in the west apt is drippin purdy bad.. i put a bucket under the drip... gonna have to keep an eye on it so it don't over flow... good news...i temporarily have water to the west apt toilet....bad news... the seals leak and the guts look dry rotted......ohh and did i mention the drains don't drain so well?!?!? thinkin it might have backed up into the sink downs stairs that i just installed... well maybe whiskey hehehehe

Ya just gotta admire a guy who can laugh in the face of drains that hold water and ceilings that don't after spending the week working what amounts to a double shift - work AND building repair LOL Seems a reward is in order so as official Health, Safety and Comfort officer of The Silver Cauldron I'm taking Mr. Tom out to hear one of his favorite bands tomorrow night, Rock 'n Roll Outlaws. I might even buy him a shot or two ; ) Maybe you'll be lucky and I'll post a few pictures of the band. If you're near Findlay on Saturday evening stop by the Whiskey Venue for some good music and to congratulate us on not killing each other as we settle into our new roles.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blessed heat!

Hey, hey, we are warm! At least in a few rooms. LOL Tom emailed last night that he had the heater going in our break area although when he had last checked he could still see his breath. This morning I went over to mess with the window coverings a bit and do some cleaning and hesitantly stuck my nose in the door of the living space adjacent to the store. It was warm! = ) If the heater hadn't been so dang dusty I swear I'd have hugged it! The majority of the building is iceberg cold but at least we can take a break and warm up occasionally. Much nicer than setting a space heater on the counter and huddling around it. LOL

Although Tom's success with the heat is by far the best news I had a bit of success myself in conquering the photo program for this blog. You'll find new shots up of the Cauldron including a few of the backyard taken before the snow arrived. The place looks bigger now that it's relatively clutter free although the cleaning is still in progress. I'm slowly working my way upstairs. One more room and the entire lower floor will be cleared of cobwebs and the worse of the dust, ready for a good wash whenever water arrives. There's quite a few pictures of the hall and stairs in this batch as that will be my first project once heat is on in the main area. The ceilings are free of water damage and hopefully are unlikely to get any. BFFs StarSnow and Brandie have been helping with the color scheme and getting the first impression right. As you can see, it's a narrow space, kind of chopped up, so we're keeping it simple; turquoise walls for Tom's tropical cravings, lighter tone ceiling with white trim and refinished natural woodwork. No way he's going to let me paint that trim! LOL I'm hoping for some sort of vinyl floor for easy cleaning, possibly a large black and white check. StarSnow bailed me out on the decorations by suggesting a few pictures of doorways; non-offensive, not to girl-y yet sort of symbolic, ya know? I've found some really nice things showing Mexican and Caribbean doors that will bring in our love of those areas yet not look weird when there's two foot of snow outside LOL

Outside of the building the blog has been picking up a few readers, most notable being the man himself, Tom. Apparently he was curious the other night, typed The Silver Cauldron, Findlay, Ohio into his browser and up we came. Now we'll have to watch what we say about him (wink) He appears to like the blog although gave the opinion that it needed sexier pictures. LOL I'm thinking warmer weather might help with that. All in all it was a great week for the cauldron between passing the gas company inspections and getting a bit of heat into the place. I think a day off is in order, maybe two. Have a few beers, watch the football games - go Steelers! - and see what it's like to have warm feet for a bit = )

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And then there was . . .

Gas! I have never been so happy to tell people I have gas in all my life! LOL After a successful inspection today we have a lovely gas meter, okay, so it's not so lovely but it works. I haven't yet seen it myself as I left prior to the inspector arriving but I'm likely to kiss it upon my next visit. As expected though, the arrival of gas does not necessarily result in heat. I noticed today that Tom had been busy with more than just the gas lines. I found a shower in the back junk room and a big hole in the floor where same shower previously sat. The water heater upstairs has also disappeared and every furnace in the place seemed dismantled. Can you believe it? Three furnaces and not a one of them working?

I'm not sure how long parts may take to get or when Tom might have things up and running. Truthfully I'm just tickled we got this far and I don't even want to shadow the celebration with questions. Knowing Tom though I'm pretty sure I'll be posting this weekend sometime with news of at least one operating furnace. We might have to huddle in a closed off room to take warm up breaks while working but it will still be wonderful progress. With not much other than cheer leading to do at this point I unwisely decided to tackle the snow shoveling this morning. Wow, now's there's a few problems to deal with! We had a nice fluffy snow overnight, maybe five inches or so, and so shoveling off the sidewalk to surprise Tom didn't seem like any big deal. Sherlock Holmes I ain't and instead of the expected fluffy coating I found eight inches of hard packed snow from the snow plow. I'd forgotten our sidewalk extends to the curb! Nothing against the plow drivers but anyone who's had to shovel out from their work knows how difficult and frustrating it is. And I had 50 foot to face! Their ears were likely burning LOL More interesting though was where to put the stuff? Now that might seem strange but we're all used to dealing with our homes, not a business. Here at home I just shove it off onto the lawn, something you don't have at a business. There's a narrow strip of bushes in front of the building but that area didn't hold much snow before it began to roll back down onto the sidewalk. Weird as it seems this is actually going to be a serious question; where exactly do we put the snow? LOL

The vacant lot next door seemed unwise as we park there and also, since we don't actually own the lot it seemed a bit rude to do, even if it is vacant. Likely the neighbors next door wouldn't mind if we piled some of it in their yard but that involves carrying it the length of the lot to dump each shovelful. Today I wimped out and for lack of anyplace better I piled it around one of the porch pillars. Not the greatest place but at least the sidewalk is clear and also the entry to the building. I'm thinking this might be something to discuss with Brian over at Beltz Home Services. They're our distant neighbors at the building and I've had Brian work on my house for years. Their lot and sidewalks were clean and neat this morning - I sighed over them wistfully - so hopefully he can hook us up with some snow removal help.

The whole snow issue came as a unexpected surprise actually. Tom and I had both acknowledged briefly that we'd need to deal with the snow and we'd talked about the 'some day' parking lot that would need plowed but never the actual mechanics. I never really thought before where the snow goes in business districts and never considered it here as so much of the area is residential. Those of you up north might want to keep that in mind if you're exploring similar adventures in business. If we get any really heavy snow at all there's a good chance we will actually have to pay to have it hauled off. Something to keep in mind for the budget ; )

It's still a great week though and a red letter day on the calendar! The day the cauldron got gas! LOL

Sunday, January 9, 2011

There's Dirt and Then . . .

Greetings from the Iceberg crew! That's what Tom is calling the building after failing yet another gas company inspection. I can't imagine how much this would all cost if we didn't have Tom's expertise and had to hire it all out but I'm sure grateful we don't! Rumor has it the inspection this week might fare a bit better although if successful it still won't bring all the furnaces online. The back apartment equipment has been 'red tagged' meaning it's unsafe and can not be hooked up without more repairs but we might see gas in the store area and upstairs apartments. I'm being careful to separate gas from heat as there's no actual guarantee the furnaces will fire up. Of course there's no reason to jinx things and think they won't but still, lets be realistic here LOL

Like most bad news the continuing gas line troubles have had their own silver lining. Tom discovered last week that many of the water pipes are broken or even missing and saved us from a not so happy flood. Of course given the cold weather we'd likely have had more ice than water making it even more of a blessing he discovered it. We expected a few leaks, some even major, but not the current condition. It looks like the plumbing was in the process of repair, stopped half way through and then the effects of time and abandonment took over. Our current wish list now reads: gas, heat, cold water and someday far on the horizon, hot water. Given the supply problems this could be the longest cleaning project ever LO

On the plus side the 'cleaning crew' made short work of the built up stuff and trash last Wednesday. Sorry not to have any pictures to share but it was just too cold! Even had the camera lens not frosted up my fingers were way too stiff to push the button LOL Brandie, her brother DJ and I gathered in the early morning chill and started hauling anything left in the building out to the back workshop. I didn't keep track of the number of trips but we worked steadily for almost 2 hours marching like ants back and forth between back room and workshop. It wasn't heavy work for the most part, just lots of little things that had to be carried individually. I'd actually thought it would take much longer but by lunchtime the storefront rooms were completely clear of trash, stereos and other electronics. The temperature inside was hoovering around 19 degrees so I skipped the sweeping and took the crew out for a steak lunch. I'd already had one experience with the cleaning and wasn't in a hurry for a second LOL

I mentioned in the last post that I was buying a vacuum for the place and I did. It's a really nice one too! Big, lots of power, bag-less and with a separate filter. Good thing too! I headed down bright and early one morning hoping to get the piles of dust knocked down and came face-to-face with the sheer amount of dirt in the place. Not even dirt but bales of pet hair and dust so thick you make one pass with a Swiffer and it's useless LOL I'll admit too that I'm a bit blond. One of my tasks last week was to take down all the globes from the overhead fan lights in the store, wash them and clean the fan blades. First off our ladders are way too short so that I had to stand on tip toes to even reach the lights. Visions of Tom finding me days later frozen to the floor after falling off the ladder convinced me to wait on the job but not before I had tried to clean one fan. No lie at all, a brand new Swiffer couldn't cut even one fan blade! The job is going to require goggles and a mask there's so much dust built up. I turned my attention to the carpet and started the vacuum up but almost immediately the filter clogged. I could do maybe a 4x4 foot section and I'd have to empty the thing and bang the dust out of the filter! I don't think the men will get this so much as the women but when you're vacuuming and empty the cup or bag you've got bits and pieces and then this soft, fine stuff. Like powdered dirt. I have one-third of a large black trash bag full of that fine dust just from one room! I took dirt cup and filter home to wash and 15 minutes under running water later it was reasonably clean. I'm figuring it will take at least two more sessions with a vacuum in that room before we quit sneezing LOL

The day after we hauled the stuff out I got a bit smarter and swept the place down with a broom first. The shop area was full of bits of wires, screws and other metal pieces all hidden under rolls of what I thought was carpet fuzz. Turns out it's dog hair. Either that or the owners had a very, very large cat LOL The back workshop has a dog door though so I'm guessing a rather large and obviously very hair mutt. I love dogs, used to share my home with several, but geesh this place couldn't have been vacuumed or swept for years given the amount of hair! The building was empty for two years but not abandon, it had windows and doors and was secure and all that so it's not like wild animals have been nesting in it. You'd never know the difference though with all the sweeping I've been doing LOL After three days of cleaning I had to wash my coat. Not wanted to, which I did, but literally had to it was that full of dust. Poor Pouncer, my cat with allergies, sneezes himself silly when I walk in the door from working over at the cauldron and no amount of water or cola washes away that dirt taste in my mouth. I suggested to Tom that we use a pressure washer on the back rooms - heated! - and he thinks I'm crazy. Really though, this is some serious dirt now! LOL Think scoop shovel rather than dust pan ; )

For me the next week brings a lull as there's little more I can do without heat and at least cold water. Tom's tired and tired of being cold as well as wanting to move on to a new puzzle but he's in a good mood about it all and enjoying the challenge still. I'm completely enjoying working there and nudging the place back to life and while I haven't yet learned too much about the renovation business I've found a lot of blessings there. It's a good building that deserves a new life and our hopes for it are good. And each day when I'm working there shivering in the cold I'm reminded to be very grateful that I'm just working there and have a nice warm home to go to when I leave. Not all of us have that and I like having that blessing pointed out to me. It's very easy sometimes to think we have it bad or have problems and we sometimes get so caught up in our own small world that we forget all the very good things we have. Not a bad start to the lessons I'll learn from the cauldron, huh?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

And the word is . . .

Do you ever have periods of time that you define or remember by a single phrase or word? When I look back upon this season the single defining thought is going to be COLD! LOL And yes, that would mean there's still no welcome warm air blowing from the furnace(s) in the cauldron.

It took the gas company all of about five seconds determine our pipes leaked - like that was a big surprise. Tom seemed annoyed but I'm getting pretty good at just shrugging. He's been working the past few days trying to find the leak(s) but that's about as successful as finding a good parking spot on a rainy day. You can stay positive and hope but the odds are against you LOL He did find a leak and fix it but testing over the weekend leads him to believe it wasn't the only one. Go figure there! Huge old building with pipes running here and there; at this point I wouldn't even want to estimate the number of possible leaks or where they might be. Tom is gamely continuing to track them down and I'm thinking wistfully of just replacing the lines and getting it done. Of course that costs money and so is a last resort but at the moment it makes me sigh longingly as much as any thought of warm, sandy beaches LOL

We had our first major disagreement, if it could even be called that, over the gas hook ups and more or less settled that amicably. Heck, it was on New Year's Eve. Wasn't either one of us going to get in a fight and be cranky for the fun later LOL Tom was in favor of the easiest fix for the actual gas hook ups and allowing them to install a larger meter at the current indoor site. Since that would have affected the showroom windows and the lines of the building, an irrational peeve of mine, I just couldn't agree to it. What store needs a huge gas meter front and center in the window? LOL Changing things will take extra time and money but it's also something we intended to do in the future in any case so I guess on this question my wants are likely going to prevail. And I learned a few things too, or maybe just came face-to-face with reality LOL It's not surprising that Tom and I have different view points on things or areas of expertise but I'm finding out design isn't one of Tom's strong points LOL Things that to me seem not even to be a question but are merely common sense such as the blocking of a storefront window are completely foreign to him. Conversely the whole pipe running thing is way beyond me. It should be fun as we move back and forth between his projects and mine to see what we each learn of the others areas.

So, the building is still cold and also waterless. We got lucky this past weekend though and had spring-like weather; it was actually warmer outside than inside the place LOL Tom shuffled some of the heavier items around along with chasing the leaks and I got the first two rooms of the store cleared of stuff and even washed the windows. Not only did we both work down there on New Year's Eve day but silly us turned off the football games on New Year's Day and headed back down. There might be a few problems but it's all good and we're having a fine time with the place. Along with the work we also had a chance to walk around and really discuss together some of the changes we'll need to make to bring things up to standard. We're hoping to install two furnaces in the apartments so each has their own rather than sharing a furnace as they do now. Same for the water heater. While that seems pretty easy to me and only a matter of moving things around I'm stumbling over building codes and what is common sense to Tom LOL A sample conversation on using a particular closet for the mechanics went something like this:

Tom - We can't put the furnace here and close it off because the circuit breakers are located here.

Me - Why not, there's no reason for the tenant to access the breakers anyway.

Yeah, I got one of those 'you're kidding me' stares LOL Along with the mention that circuit breakers do need reset at times and we didn't want to be called down every time that happened. Well, duh! LOL Good thing my 'job' is the cosmetic end LOL Speaking of the cosmetic, I ordered curtains for the store windows and earned another 'you're kidding' stare LOL The more time I spend in the cauldron building the more I realize this is going to be a long haul. We've got a lot of work to do and not only isn't it smart crime-wise to leave all the tools and materials exposed but it just looks bad to me. Tom and I had agreed that the windows would need to be covered but the more I thought about it the less I liked the idea of using paper. It would need to be up for a year at least and even if it was changed occasionally it would still look nasty. So, I ordered curtains LOL Shopping queen that I am they cost only a few dollars more than the roll of paper although with frugality comes little choice. We will soon have - are you ready for this? - turquoise and white tie-dye crushed satin drapes for our workspace! ROFLBO I really can understand why they didn't sell and are now on super clearance! It was way too cost effective to pass up though as well as way too funny to imagine the reactions of Tom and others. Or maybe it'll take every one's attention off the besom that gets hung on my next visit . . . hehehe I don't yet have a safe place to move my Ganesh statue to but I've got a lovely space over the front door to hang a broom =)

Today Ohio's back to winter cold and I'm already chilled thinking of working this week in a once-again cold building. On the plus side I'm picking up a vacuum for the place and one of those long Swiffer dusters so we can finally get rid of the cobwebs and dead leaves piled in the corners. We'll also begin working out some plan for paying the bills and keeping track of everything. That alone should be an adventure!